27 Dec 14
North West London's Weekly Torah Sheet
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Emotions Were Kept In Check To Be Faithful To Halacha
At the beginning of Perek 45, the pasuk says: Then Yosef could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and he cried: Cause every man to go out from me. And there stood no man with him, while Yosef made himself known unto his brethren. And he wept aloud...
Ironically, before Yosef lost it and started to cry he ordered that all (Egyptians) be removed from the room. Why? Rashi says because he did not want the brothers to be humiliated in front of the Egyptians. Yosef knew that his brothers would be tremendously embarrassed when he revealed himself to them as the ruling power of the most powerful nation in the world -- knowing that years earlier they had sold him into slavery. He did not want anyone in the room to see the embarrassment his brothers would be suffering.
Anyone who has been in a situation where they were so overcome with emotion that they broke down crying will realize the difficulty in this narrative. All of us have such moments in life. When we break down crying it is not possible to say wait a minute, before I break down, I have to check my e-mail. Emotions overcome a person.
Yosef could not hold himself back.
Somehow Yosef was able to hold it in long enough to give the order for the others to leave and long enough for all of them to file out in an orderly fashion. He knew that the halacha prohibits one from publicly embarrassing his fellow man. This is a classic example of human emotions clashing with a halacha. A person has to develop such control that he will not disregard the halacha despite his emotions.
Many times, we say to ourselves I couldnt help myself. I couldnt stop. Therefore, we take liberties. Yosef did not take liberty. The
halacha says you cannot embarrass your brothers. Despite the overwhelming emotions at play, Yosef controlled his emotions and acted according to halacha.
I saw a similar story involving Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz. There was a student of the Mir Yeshiva who lived in America who had a child who was very sick. The student sent a friend of his to go ask Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz that he pray for the child. Rav Chaim took the name and said he would pray for him. Unfortunately, the next day the child took a turn for the worse, and this friend had to go back into Rav Chaim and tell him that the child passed away. Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz asked the friend to please extend blessings of condolences to the father of the child in America. The friend left the room and then Rav Chaim (who had been learning with a chavrusa who later told the story) burst out crying. He cried uncontrollably for several minutes. The chavrusa asked him why he did not start crying immediately. He explained, I saw the friend of my student who delivered the news was already an emotional wreck. I did not want to add to his trauma by crying in front of him. I withheld myself until he left the room and then I let myself go.
This is a similar story to what occurred by Yosef. We need to have enough control over our emotions so that our outbreak does not negatively impact others in ways that the halacha would not want us to impact them.
The Torah Shiurim of Rabbi FrandRabbi Yissochor FrandMaagid Shiur, Yeshivas Ner Yisroel, Baltimore
Eretz HaTzvi ....................................... 2Rabbi Shraga Kallus ......................... 3Parsha Perspective ............................ 4Home Grown ...................................... 5Rabbi Yonason Roodyn .................... 6Weekly Nach ....................................... 7Dr T ...................................................... 8Guidelines to Tefilah ......................... 9MeYemini Michoel ..........................10Halacha Conversation ....................11Rambam ............................................12
2Eretz HaTzviRabbi Zvi TeichmanCongregation Ohel Moshe, Baltimore, MD
To Life, To Life, LChaim!Life is filled with challenges. We win some and we lose some. Sometimes
the losses seem to be greater than our victories. Where do we draw the strength to deal with the frustrations, the failures, and the despair that sets in their wake?
As Yaakov Avinu descends to Egypt he is presented by Yosef to the King of Egypt.
Pharaoh inquires, ( ) , How many are the days of the years of your life?
Yaakov responds, ,( ) The days of the years of my sojourns have been a hundred and thirty years. Few and bad have been the the days of the years of my life, and they have not reached the life spans of my forefathers in the days of their sojourn.
We are taught that Yaakov was penalized for griping about the difficulties of his life. G-d confronts Yaakov telling him, Didnt I save you from Lavan and Esav? Didnt I return Dinah and Yosef to you? Because you complained, your life will be reduced by the number of words employed in these verses describing this encounter with Pharaoh.
From the Torahs initial description of Pharaoh first speaking to Yaakov until the last word in Yaakovs response there is a total of thirty three words. This corresponds to the difference between the age Yitzchok lived to, 180, and Yaakovs departure from this world at the age of 147. ( )
G-ds taking Yaakov to task for seemingly not remembering how He saved him seems imprecise and almost unfair. Although G-d certainly saved him but didnt he also proverbially push him off the cliff? Didnt G-d dispatch the conniving Lavan, the menacing Esav, the lecherous Shechem and allow for the dissent between the brothers to develop into hatred?
Is Yaakovs anguish over all the tensions and travails he faced in all those daunting challenges, before he was ultimately saved, not justified in explaining his premature gray hairs?
It seems that by including into the count of thirty three words the verse depicting Pharaohs questioning as well, that Yaakov was being faulted for just simply appearing old and provoking Pharaoh to inquire about his age.
Is this the first time he looked old? Did he suddenly age first now?
Most likely whatever weakened state he was in, as a consequence of having dealt with a lifetime of troubles, certainly preceded his encounter with Pharaoh. Why then wasnt he held accountable much earlier?
The Baal HaTurim alleges that during the episode when Rachel unbeknownst to Yaakov hid Lavans idols, and Yaakov declared that whomever did steal them, ( ) , shall not live!, it backfired on him and he was punished that he would not live the equivalent number of years numerically equivalent to the word of( (!33 (5+01+8+01( ,
Are these two sources in conflict?
Perhaps the Torah is intimating that in the world of Yaakov, the personification of the attribute of , Truth in this world, he must bear the consequence of that high station. Yaakov who couldnt tolerate in his home the snatching of even idols and considered it an offense culpable with death, would be held accountable to that same pure standard of truth himself.
We live in a world where it is difficult to discern the even-handedness of G-d in both good and bad that comes our way. With perfect perception we would celebrate equally for tragedy as for joy, ultimately they are similarly for our benefit, but we are incapable of sensing it fully.
Yaakov Avinu was held to a much higher standard. Yaakov should have sensed the truth of G-ds presence with acuity even in his troubles. He was therefore taken to task and had to forfeit thirty three years of his noble life for that shortcoming.
Could it be that Yaakov failed in his very life mission?
( ) , They stood him (Yaakov) before Pharaoh.
While many interpret this to emphasize the need to support him as he was frail and old, the Sechel Tov explains this to mean that Yaakovs radiant beauty toward over all those present.
Yaakov Avinu wasnt walking around with a smirk of disaffection for his situation in life. He exuded positiveness as evident in his generously bestowing blessings upon Pharaoh both upon arrival and departure. But Yaakov knew that in this encounter began the long exile ahead both in Egypt and all subsequent exiles.
Yaakov knew that it would be extremely difficult to keep our heads high in the face of the ordeals we would face in those difficult days. Yaakov sought to portray the toll suffering can take on our bodies and psyche. He boldly forfeited thirty three years of life so that we would gain strength from observing how Yaakov survived an endless onslaught of the most difficult challenges man can face. Dangerous enemies, death , rape, disharmony at home, conflict among children, financial strife are all among the multi-faceted trials Yaakov faced in his lifetime.
Pharaoh observes a beaten and physically worn but radiant individual. He curiously seeks to understand , How can one find , vibrancy, even in a life filled with arduous challenge.
Yaakov reveals that life has to be perceived as , a sojourn, towards a much greater destination.
, literally this translates as, Few and bad have been the the days of the years of my life.
But this is strange, since if the emphasi